Educational trips, whether you're touring with your class or your family, are a wonderful way to enhance your academic vision whilst gaining new insight into America at large. But, we understand that you don't want to break the bank while you're learning new things. Keeping this in mind, we've gathered 9 great destinations that are easy to make educational and equally as easy to fit into any budget.
One of the country's most visited national parks, Yellowstone is an educational wonderland with over 10,000 geothermal features including the Old Faithful geyser. Between the geysers and abundant native wildlife roaming the park, Yellowstone is perfect for any trip focused on biology, environmental science, ecology, or even seismology and more. Better yet, it's free to visit! Stay in nearby towns like Jackson Hole, Wyoming or pitch a tent for an extended stay on the cheap.
P.S. If Yellowstone is too far for your group to travel, almost all other national parks charge no admission. Other wonderful choices include Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and the Great Smoky Mountains.
What educational trip is complete without a visit to our nation's capital? The great thing about D.C. is that many of its best attractions (i.e. the Smithsonian museums and national monuments) are completely free. It's almost impossible not to make D.C.'s attractions educational, from the Lincoln Memorial to the National Zoological Park operated by the Smithsonian Institute. Make sure you visit the National Museum of Natural History, perhaps the best museum in the country, as well as the National Air and Space Museum. You can save on hotel costs by staying just outside the city in areas like Arlington, Virginia or book early and go when prices are down.
The capital of country music itself, a city full of southern charm and wondrous attractions, Nashville offers curious visitors some of the lowest hotel prices in the country. Nashville is also the place to find everything from a full-size replica of the Greek temple Parthenon to country music's largest performance hall, the Grand Ole Opry. Educational trips may lead you to the Adventure Science Center, the 1853 Belle Meade Plantation, or The Hermitage, an 1821 Greek Revival mansion built for President Andrew Jackson.
The true, beautiful belle of southern Georgia, Savannah is all at once historic, picturesque, architecturally astounding, and - wait for it - budget friendly. Find cheap hotels just outside the city's main district and extremely affordable hostels within. Visit history at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, home to the founder of the Girl Scouts. Also be sure to stroll down River Street, take in the sensational city squares (22 of them) begun in 1733, Forsyth Park, Bonaventure Cemetery, among the many historic antebellum homes spread about the incredibly walkable city.
5. San Antonio
"Remember the Alamo" and visit the UNESCO Heritage Site in one of Texas' most visited cities. While you're here, explore the Spanish Missions National Park to see Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion, and be sure to tour museums like the Spanish Governor's Palace, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Witte Museum. Steer clear of downtown San Antonio if you're looking for affordable hotels and instead look to neighborhoods like the historic King William district and Alamo Heights.
An adventurously funky city swathed in scenery and culture, Portland's eco-friendly atmosphere and trendy attractions make it an inviting destination for any student trip. Think winter trips for truly budget friendly vacations or stay outside Portland and commute to some of her best attractions. In the "City of Roses," spots like the International Rose Test Garden, Pittock Mansion, and the many gardens including the Japanese and the Classical Chinese Gardens are recommended to best glean the nature of Portland.
7. Kansas City
The Midwest's "City of Fountains" is both beautiful and affordable with discount hotel prices, even in the city center, averaging at $100 while some, like the Best Value Inn, start at only $69. The big KC may be affordable but it is truly rich in attractions from the free Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to Union Station, the interactive Crown Center featuring the LEGO Discovery Center and Sea Life Aquarium, the Kansas City Zoo, and even fun theme parks like Worlds of Fun.
If you've ever wanted to visit Napa Valley but couldn't afford the "romantic" prices, try Charlottesville instead. With rooms at a fraction of Napa's prices, this historic Virginia city was once home to presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Woodrow Wilson. Visit their homes, especially Monticello and Ash Lawn-Highland, during your stay. Charlottesville is also the place to find the Virginia Discovery Museum, Shenandoah National Park, historic Jefferson Theater, and more.
The Steel City is easy to make educational with sites marking America's rise in industry and economics, with famous residents ranging from Andrew Carnegie to Andy Warhol. A much cheaper option than Boston or Philadelphia, Pittsburgh hotels average at less than $100 a night and only decrease in price outside the city center. While you're here, check out the Heinz History Center, the Carnegie Science Center, Andy Warhol Museum, and the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for an educational yet relaxing afternoon among the fragrant flowers.
As always, call us at Adventure Student Travel if you have any questions about making your desired destination affordable. Let our talented agents design a customized itinerary just for you, to fit around your budget.